- Happy Monday, Sooners fans! It’s the last day of August!
- “All right: stop, collaborate, and listen / [SaintSooner’s] back with my brand new invention.” Yes, this week’s edition of Monday Morning Bulletpoints will be brought to you by that poet of our age, Vanilla Ice. I begin my third season of bulletpoints’s with the Sooners ranked third in the preseason rankings. Coincidence…? (Well, yes, actually; that’s what “coincidence” means.)
- (Just to get this out of the way, as a lifelong Queen fan, I’m not a fan of “Ice Ice Baby.” Here’s an acoustic version without a ripped-off bass line if you’re like me.)
- Another year, another Bob Stoops team with high expectations. Like every other year, we’ve had good players depart, we have a big group of kids with another year of growth, and we’ve got some talented newcomers. Just like every other NCAA football squad. With so much change, who do you turn to for analysis? Some folks will look to Kirk Herbstreit or Phil Steele or Berry Tramel or Vegas. Me, I’m taking a different approach this season, and looking for wisdom from Robert Matthew Van Winkle (wiki) to “Kick it to me one time, boy” while I break down each position group for the 2016 Sooners.
LINEBACKER “Something grabs a hold of me tightly…” Like I said at the time, I think the corps of linebackers we had last season may have been the best since I’ve been watching OU football. This season,
Eric Striker’s in Buffalo, Davonte Bond is in Tampa Bay, and Dominique Alexander is in Cleveland. Ouch? Well, probably, but maybe not too badly. Big Jordan Evans, a senior, will probably lead the team in tackles this year. The reassuring thing is, there is plenty of depth behind him, with Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Tay Evans having some playing experience and a bushel of highly-talented rookies in the bullpen. There is likely going to be a dropoff from last year, especially in early games. How quickly guys like Ricky DeBerry and Caleb Kelly get used to their jobs may well be the thing that decides the season for us.
- SAFETY “Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly…” Stephen Parker has a boring name. Seriously, that’s the kind of name you reserve for the nerdy, bookish kid who slings webs and fights crime when he’s not in chem lab. Ahmad Thomas was my most improved player of last season. This unit is going to make plays all year long.
- COACHING “Will it ever stop? / Yo, I don’t know!” The three best football coaches in America earn their paychecks at blue blood programs. But while Nick Saban had his dalliance with the Miami Dolphins after leaving LSU and Urban Meyer had his short retirement from Florida, Stoops has been a rock at Oklahoma since 1999. After a “disappointing” 2014 season (“only” 8 wins!), some on these boards wondered if the game had passed Bob by. Then, the next year, he changed his staff and his quarterback and was in the playoffs and the masses were pleased. Our coaches are some of the best in the business, and I’m glad there’s already a statue ready for the inevitable sad day that Bob Stoops retires.
- TIGHT END “To the extreme, I rock a mike like a vandal…” Is Mark Andrews a tight end or is he a wide receiver? Yes, Sooners, we have the “problem” my beloved Saints once had with Jimmy Graham. I’ll live with that problem. Mike linebackers had better be ready for this weapon. Kid can block and release, but can also make some big catches. Ask Tulsa. To say that the kid might end up being Jermaine Gresham-special might be a little optimistic... but it might not.
- SPECIAL TEAMS “Light up the stage and wax a chump like a candle.” Kickers are a weird bunch. Austin Seibert is preseason All Big 12 for punting, and his ability to drop bombs inside opponents’ 20-yard line was huge for us last season. As a place kicker, he can light up the scoreboard. The thing is, though: he’s a kicker. Remember Michael Hunnicutt’s senior year…? You’re welcome, Kansas State. Also, best of luck to the transferred Alex Ross, whose kick return highlights will be hard to replicate.
- CORNERBACK “You better hit bull’s-eye, the kid don’t play.” Jordan Thomas’ offseason shenanigans should tell us something: no matter how fast you run, sometimes you can’t run fast enough. This is the Big XII, and quarterbacks and wide receivers are as talented as you’ll find. That said, in terms of corners, ours are the hardest-working men in show business. Also, don’t sleep on Dakota Austin. Because sleeping on people you don’t know is rude, and you’ll probably get violently pushed out of the bed. (In the words of Hedley Lamar, “I hate that cliché.”)
- QUARTERBACK “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.” I got nothing to say here that you don’t already know. Baker Mayfield’s the man. If he gets hurt, it’s gonna be rough. And chances are better than good that he will get hurt to some degree this season. With Cody Thomas playing baseball (apparently really, really well) we’re about as deep as a kiddie pool at the position. Keep your fingers crossed and visit your local voodoo priest for blessings of health for Baker Mayfield.
- OFFENSIVE LINE “Quick to the point, to the point no fakin’ / Burning [DT’s] like a pound of bacon….” The word on our offensive line last year was that we were young. This year? It’s that we’re young, just a year older. Everybody knows the name Orlando Brown – I just hope we don’t hear it as much this season following the words “False start on the offense….” With Ty Darlington lost to graduation, it’s going to be interesting to see how Jonathan Alvarez does playing Center. O-line is a potential spot for regression, but I’m not as worried about it as some seem to be.
- RUNNINGBACK “Burnin’ them if you ain’t quick and nimble…” As with the quarterback section above, nothing you don’t already know. Samaje and Joe. Whoomp, there it is. (Apologies for the party foul, I just mixed my Generation X hip-hop references.)
- FULLBACK “I’m on a roll and it’s time to go solo….” I loved Trey Millard. I loved his play as much as I love Hatch chilis, and chile verde is one of my favorite things. That said, Dimitri Flowers might be the next best thing. Check out this article in which he talks about his game. (Connor Knight is listed as a backup FB on the depth chart, but in a Lincoln Riley offense, who knows, we might see him taking Wildcat direct snaps….)
- WIDE RECEIVERS “Ice, ice baby.” Kirk Herbstreit thinks there’s a decent change that Sterling Shepard might be NFL rookie of the year; good news for Giants fans, a little scary for us. We’ve certainly got a lot of bodies at the position, but after Dede Westbrook, we just don’t know yet whether or not Mayfield has had enough reps to get his timing down with them. Potentially scary in the early goings.
- DEFENSIVE LINE “Too cold to hold.” In a perfect world, this unit would be responsible for a lot of offensive holding calls. It may, however, be my biggest area for concern after linebacker – if you don’t count Charles Walker, the D-line has big shoes to fill. Figuratively. They’re not literally going to be wearing the old guys’ shoes, that would be weird.
- Whew! I haven’t listened to that much Vanilla Ice since high school pool parties when KJ103 wouldn’t stop playing it. I feel kinda dirty. My actual, personal pump-up song for this Oklahoma football season? R.E.M., “Living Well Is the Best Revenge.” “The future’s ours and you don’t even rate a footnote….”
Sooner fans...— C&C Machine (@CCMachine) August 31, 2016
What's your favorite Gene Wilder movie?
- Peace and love, Sooners fans! Nice to see all the old faces and all the new ones. Can I get a Boomer Sooner up in this joint?